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11 APRIL 2004  

Museum makes a "direct hit" at Range 

Former McChord Based F-106A S/N 59-0147 sits awaiting its final mission as a target at Arizona's Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range


Foundation Vice President and F-106 Crew Chief Ernest White presents Russ Clemet, Contract Operations, Gila Bend AFS, with a plaque and F-106 Ball cap as a "thank you" for the assistance given by the unit.     


During the early months of 2004, The McChord Museums F-106 Delta Dart restoration project titled "Fix-A-Six" received a major boost in the effort of returning F-106 56-0459 back to a condition deserving for a Cold War Warrior. With the assistance from personnel from the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range located at Gila Bend, AZ, the Museum was able to gather a good deal of the missing components needed to partially restore our F-106. The story of this particular recovery effort really began late last year. 

In late, 2003 rumors were running through the F-106 community that the Delta Dart airframes stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, (or “Boneyard”) since the 80’s, were about to be released by the Air Force Museum and removed from storage - fate unknown. Weeks later the rumors of the pending demise of the F-106’s were later confirmed, soon the Boneyard would loose it’s F-106’s.  Of the 13 remaining F-106’s 7 or 8 of these aircraft would be slated for what would be their last assignment, as air-to-ground training targets (or Range Ducks) at the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range in AZ. Was this news the end of a seven year dream to restore the Museums F-106? It very well could have been if not for the quick action from F-106 Crew Chief, and Foundation Vice President Ernie White and Museum Administrator MSgt. Ray Jordan.  

After more than a few phone calls and e-mails to various organizations in the Military establishment, approval was given to the museum to recover components from the F-106’s before the aircraft were ferried off on their last trip. In late February 2004, a recovery team consisting of Mr. Ernie White and MSgt Ray Jordan landed in AZ to begin what would be a four-day, dawn to dusk effort at Gila Bend Auxiliary Air Field, adjacent to the Goldwater Range. 

Upon arriving at the Range’s Storage Facility, the crew was greeted by the haunting sight of the colorful tail designs from former F-106 units tasked with the defense of the United Stated throughout the Cold War. One of those units, the 5th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Minot AFB, ND, served with McChord’s 25th Air Division from 1983 – 1985 in the Dart. Another unit represented was tasked to train F-106 interceptor pilots for the USAF in the early 80’s, the 325th Fighter-Weapons Wing. During the 1950’s and 1960’s the unit then known as the 325th Fighter Wing (Air Defense) was the host organization at McChord’s until its deactivation on July 1, 1968. 

For many years, the seven F-106 Aircraft, had been used as a source of parts to keep F-106 & QF-106’s flying before their delivery to Gila Bend, all of the Delta Darts were subjected to a “de-miling” process were a good deal of the aircraft’s components deemed to be environmentally destructive were removed, the aircraft also had their radomes, engines removed and their wings and tips of their vertical stabilizer sawed off, and yet the F-106’s appeared to be proud warriors. Two of these warriors stories are intertwined with McChord AFB history F-106A’s 59-0065 and 59-0147.  

F-106A 59-0065 was among the first Delta Darts to be assigned to McChord’s 318th FIS in 1960, and in the late 60’s served as the squadrons’ flagship. 065 would leave the 318th in the early 70’s, it’s last assignment would be with the Active Air Force’s last F-106 Squadron, the 49th FIS based at Griffiss AFB, NY and would be the third Delta Dart to be retired to the “Boneyard”. 

F-106A 59-0147, the second to the last Delta Dart to be produced, was involved in the second major batch of F-106’s to arrive at McChord during the reassignment of the 498th FIS in 1963. F-106A 0147 would stay with the 318th at McChord after the 498th moved to Paine AFB, WA. In 1982, the interceptor was one of the five F-106’s that participated in the 318th’s last William Tell Air to Air Weapons Competition with the Delta Dart.  After 20 years of service with the 318th, 0147 was one of the last F-106’s to leave squadron during the conversion to F-15 in 1983. As the 17th F-106 to enter the Boneyard, the aircraft would not follow most Delta Darts into the Full Scaled Drone Project, she would spend it’s final days in the baking sun of Arizona before it’s last mission at the Goldwater Bombing Range.      

During this and one additional visit one month later, Museum recovery crews were able to collect many of the components from the seven aircraft to supply many of the parts needed to restore the Museum’s F-106 and instruments to assist in the restoration of other  aircraft in the collection, the CF-101F VooDoo, F-102A Delta Dagger, T-33A "T-Bird" and F-106 simulator. Although areas considered for restoration, the cockpit, weapons bay, and speed brake, will not be restored to a functional condition, they will be restored to an operational appearance.  

Unfortunately components for one area, the F-106’s electronic bays and their weapons and navigational  “black boxes” were not available. The “black boxes” from the Gila Bend F-106's were removed during the aircraft's de-miling process and are essentially unavailable. Restoration of these areas are no longer deemed to be a priority. The McChord Air Museum is exploring other options to obtain another item missing from the aircraft at Gila Bend, the F-106's Pratt & Whitney J-75 engine. The J-75 engine will be a key addition to a proposed aircraft engine gallery. 

The Members of the McChord Air Museum Foundation would like the pass on its great appreciation to Russ Clemet, James Rios and the other Members at Gila Bend AAF. 


(Please visit the F-106 restoration page (Fix-A-Six) for the list of parts not recovered and for pictures from Gila Bend.)     

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The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205
McChord AFB, WA. 98438-0205
e-mail - mamfound@mcchordairmuseum.org